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COVID-19 Forces to Postpone Again Puerto Rico's Presidential Primary
April 2, 2020
SAN JUAN, PR - Faced with the reality of the local government's quarantine extension due to the threat of COVID-19 and the foreseeable further extension of this period, Puerto Rico Democratic Party Chairman Charlie Rodriguez announced that the Democratic Presidential Primary will not be held on April 26. The primary was initially set to take place on March 29 but was postpone by legislation to April 26.
Rodriguez stated, however, that in the recent legislation a provision was included to further postpone the primary election, if the emergency situation persisted by April 26. This provision delegates authority to the Chairman of the local Democratic Party in consultation with the President of the Puerto Rico State Commission on Elections (SCE), Juan E. Dávila-Rivera, to select an alternate date for presidential primary.
"The most important thing right now is to save lives and contain the spread of COVID-19. But we will take all necessary actions to guarantee the right to vote in an event of great importance for the Nation and Puerto Rico," he said.
In addition, Rodriguez said that the Democratic National Committee, for similar reasons, postponed its National Convention until August 17. This provides more flexibility to determine the feasibility of a date for the local presidential primary in compliance with all the required processes in law and regulation.
Rodriguez said, before suggesting a new date now, he prefers to remain vigilant and monitor the emergency situation with the Governor and the Department of Health to determine when health and safety conditions are conducive to the holding of a presidential primary.
The Democratic leader indicated that he will also be consulting with SCE president Dávila Rivera, since it is the State Commission on Elections that has the duty to carry out the primary voting process.
"There are multiple factors involved, but I am confident that we will overcome any obstacle to ensure that every eligible voter has the opportunity to cast a ballot without the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19," said Charlie Rodriguez
Puerto Rico Presidential Primary to be postponed due to the Coronavirus
March 26, 2020
The Governor signed into law Joint Senate Resolution No.488, becoming Joint Resolution 20-2020 after its signature (View copy of the Joint Resolution). The date for the Democratic Presidential Primary shall be on Sunday, April 26, 2020.
If, however, the coronavirus emergency continues by April 26, Joint Resolution 20-2020 authorizes the Chairman of the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico (hereinafter “DPPR”), in consultation with the President of the Puerto Rico State Commission on Elections (“CEE” by its Spanish acronym) to select an alternate date without having to go back to the Legislature to change the primary date.
The enacted law also authorizes the CEE President, in consultation with the DPPR President, to modify the terms provided by law or regulation applicable to the preparations for the Democratic Party Presidential Primary.
The Rules of the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”) remain unchanged. This requires that all delegate selection be completed by June 9, 2020. Similarly, the 2020 Democratic National Convention is still set to take place on July 13-16, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It remains to be seen whether the primaries of the local political parties are held on June 7, 2020 as provided by law. We will keep you posted if any of these dates are modified because of the emergency situation affecting Puerto Rico and the entire Nation.
We urge you to keep track on our website www.prdems.org for any change that may occur with holding the primary on April 26, 2020, should the CEE lockdown be prolonged and the emergency preventative measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak enacted by Governor be extended.
Bill Postponing Puerto Rico Presidential Primary Enacted into Law
March 21, 2020
SAN JUAN, PR - Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vazquez signed into law Joint Senate Resolution #488 ordering the Puerto Rico State Commission on Elections (PRSCE) to postpone the holding of the Democratic presidential primary until April 26, instead of March 29, as originally established by law.
Charles Rodríguez, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico (DPPR), indicated that the Legislative Assembly approved his postponement request after the territory’s House of Representatives passed the bill with a 48-2 vote majority.
Following the postponement becoming law, Rodríguez and the Electoral Commissioner of the DPPR, Héctor Joaquín Sánchez, will meet with the President of the PRSCE, Juan E. Dávila-Rivera, to fine-tune the details for the new primary election date.
For Rodriguez the fundamental issue, after the local government established COVID-19 mandatory preventative measures, is to ensure that the citizen's right to vote is protected, as a guarantee of the decision-making power conferred to every voter by our democratic system.
"Without a doubt, this is the time for preventative measures to stop the spread of the virus. But even in this crisis, both the Legislature and the Governor highlighted the democratic freedoms and rights that allow us to be a society based on the value of voting, as an expression of the will of the majority of our people," Rodríguez said.
Rodriguez will notify the Democratic National Committee (DNC) of the adoption of the Resolution that delays the primary event for one month, so that at the national level there is evidence of the legality of all the processes inherent in holding the Puerto Rico presidential primary.
The law-turned measure also authorizes the Chairman of Puerto Rico's Democratic Party and the President of the Puerto Rico State Commission on Elections to further postpone the primary election, if the emergency situation persists by April 26.
Rodriguez also emphasized that former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders are currently active in the presidential contest. Still, he explained, voters could choose to vote on the delegate selection ballot for district level delegates from candidates who have withdrawn from the process.
Puerto Rico’s ballots were printed on February 8 to comply with federal absentee ballot voting requirements. At that time there were eight candidates. “Regardless of whether any of the eight Democratic presidential candidates has withdrawn, if that candidate receives 15% or more of the votes on the district delegate selection ballot, the vote is valid and may elect delegates at the district level." Rodríguez said.
Whatever the voter’s decision, the selection of 51 delegates remains unchanged by means of the processes recognized by the DNC for the territory’s delegation, in addition to the seven automatic delegates to which Puerto Rico is entitled. Puerto Rico will have 58 delegates to the 2020 Democratic National Convention, more than that of 30 states or territories of the Nation.
Puerto Rico Senate Passes Resolution Postponing the Island’s Democratic Presidential Primary
March 16, 2020
SAN JUAN, PR - The Puerto Rico Senate acted today at the request of the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico (DPPR) to postpone the Democratic Presidential Primary from March 29 to April 26, as the U.S. territory copes with a mandatory lockdown and curfew enacted by the local government as precautionary measures against the threat of coronavirus.
Charles Rodriguez, Chairman of the DPPR, announced that the Puerto Rico Senate passed the resolution which delays, for a month, the holding of the territory’s presidential primary as requested by the state party. Additionally, the resolution authorizes the President of the DPPR and the President of the Puerto Rico State Commission on Elections to further postpone the primary election, if the emergency situation persists by April 26.
"The amendment to the Presidential Primary Act is a necessary step to preserve public health in the face of the global pandemic. Postponing the primary will also ensure a larger turnout for many Puerto Ricans to express their support for a permanent union with the U.S. and the need for the territory to assert itself, with real decision-making power, as part of the democratic processes of the nation”, said Rodriguez.
The Senate bill now goes to the Puerto Rico House of Representatives where its approval is anticipated. Governor Wanda Vazquez has indicated she will sign the bill as soon as it reaches her desk.
SAN JUAN, PR - In response to the national emergency declared by the federal government, as well as the prevention measures taken by Governor Wanda Vázquez concerning the coronavirus, the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico will request the postponement of the Presidential Primaries set to take place on March 29.
This was confirmed by Charles Rodriguez the party Chairman, who intends to request that the territory’s Legislative Assembly postpone the primary, since this presidential primary is approved and sanctioned by local law.
Seriously concerned about the welfare of voters and arguing that the safety of every citizen is paramount, Rodriguez will request that the Presidential Primary Act be amended for the vote to take place on Sunday, April 26.
Otherwise, a second alternative in mind by the leader of the local Democrats is to allow the party to choose the date, in the event the situation caused by the coronavirus could also affect the primary in April.
"This is an unpredictable day-by-day situation that requires constant monitoring of the progress of the disease. Our intention is to keep all options open to ensure the citizen's right to vote," he said.
Rodriguez said that, given the circumstances, he remains in communication with the Puerto Rico Health Department and the CDC, as well as with the Chairman of the Puerto Rico State Commission on Elections, Juan Davila-Rivera, and Democratic Party Election Commissioner Hector Sanchez.
The President of the Democratic Party assured Puerto Rico will hold the presidential primary in one form or another, since the 58 delegates that the island selects for the 2020 Democratic National Convention -more than 30 states or territories of the nation- will be fundamental to the selection of the Democratic presidential nominee for the general elections on November.
Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and its residents are American citizens. They can hold presidential primaries for both major national parties send delegates to the national conventions, but they cannot vote in the November general election to elect the President while living in the territory; neither do they have U.S. Senators nor voting members in Congress.